Bill aims to stop coal companies from denying benefits to miners with black lung

By Chris Hamby

Two coal-state senators plan to introduce legislation to reform the federal benefits program for black lung victims.

Ten major findings from our investigations so far this year

By Jared Bennett and Sarah Whitmire

Investigations from the first half of 2014

Critic of artificial sweeteners pilloried by industry-backed scientists

By Chris Young

Any criticism of the artificial sweetener industry is met with a barrage of criticism, often from questionable sources.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Coca-Cola":

"… nbsp;Committee on Low-Calorie Sweeteners, whose members include Ajinomoto, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. His wife, who is the diet and nutrition editor for the NBC To …"

"… n and that two of the study’s authors received consulting fees from Coca-Cola. She also did not mention her husband’s ties to the manufacturer of aspa …"

"… se, a dietitian who also represents food companies like Splenda, Coca-Cola and Kraft Foods, took to the comments section of an NPR story to …"

"… 12 tax filing, the board  includes officials from soda companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, as well as artificial sweetener manufacturers like Ajinomoto …"

Black lung claims by 1,100 coal miners may have been wrongly denied

By Chris Hamby

Black lung opinions by Dr. Paul Wheeler of Johns Hopkins should be assumed to lack credibility, senators are told at a hearing.

Even low doses of arsenic trigger cancer in mice, study finds

By David Heath

Study by the National Institutes of Health found levels of arsenic similar to what some people consume caused cancer in mice.

How politics derailed EPA science on arsenic, endangering public health

By David Heath

A ban on arsenic-containing pesticides was lifted after a lawmaker disrupted a scientific assessment by the EPA.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Senate":

"… erry-picking the data.” In August 2010, 15 Republicans in the House and Senate made that very argument in a letter to then-EPA Administrator Li …"

What to do if your drinking water contains arsenic

By David Heath

Millions of Americans unwittingly consume arsenic, a potent carcinogen also linked to IQ deficits in children, in their drinking water.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Consumer Reports":

"… c from your drinking water, you’ll still consume some in your food. Consumer Reports tested rice and rice products and found what it described as “worri …"

Foul air in heavily fracked Texas county has couple looking for a way out

By Lisa Song

After 23 years in once-placid Karnes County, Texas, Lynn and Shelby Buehring say they're moving to escape toxic fumes from a fracking boom.

Energy Dept. confirms it's been on the wrong path since 2007

By Douglas Birch

A newly-released DOE study concludes the department can save billions by shelving a costly South Carolina nuclear fuel factory.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Russia":

"… f surplus weapons plutonium affordably, as part of a disarmament deal with Russia, has concluded what many experts long suspected: The cheapest option is to …"

"… e modifying the United States’ current plutonium disposal agreement with Russia. But assuming those hurdles could be overcome, the report said the burial …"

"… ned the project, led by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. The United States and Russia first signed a deal to each dispose of 34 tons of their weapons plutonium …"

"… a pact brokered by Moniz, then working for the Energy department. But the Russians chafed at the United States’ insistence that they not be allowed to us …"

Deadly Texas fertilizer plant explosion blamed on regulatory failures

A 2013 blast at West Fertilizer that killed 14 "never should have occurred," Chemical Safety Board chairman says.

Herbicide ban on hold in Sri Lanka, as source of deadly kidney disease remains elusive

By Sasha Chavkin

After Sri Lanka's announced ban on a Monsanto herbicide, opponents challenged the action and convinced the president to put the ban on hold.

Excerpts from this story referencing "India":

"… disease devastating agricultural workers in Central America, Sri Lanka and India. Scientists suspect the malady is caused by a combination of factors inclu …"

Tough new fracking rules in Colorado drawing keen attention in Texas, where boom rages on

By Zahra Hirji, Lisa Song and Jim Morris

Air pollution rules adopted last month in Colorado may have an impact on oil and gas drilling in Texas.

Excerpts from this story referencing "energy":

"… a month ago but already are making an impact in Texas, where lawmakers and energy companies have long resisted tightening air standards. Several companies …"

"… he environmental organizations that helped craft the Colorado rules. Many energy companies participated in Colorado's rule-making process, but only four of …"

"… exas during this election year, when key positions, including governor and energy regulators, are being contested. In Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s …"

"… nmental Quality. Change in Texas 'at least thinkable now' Bruce Baizel, energy program director at the environmental group Earthworks, expects other stat …"

Sri Lanka bans Monsanto herbicide citing potential link to deadly kidney disease

By Sasha Chavkin

Sri Lanka orders ban on glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup, citing kidney disease outbreak; Monsanto said the evidence is unproven.

Excerpts from this story referencing "World Health Organization":

"… blished last August by Sri Lankan health officials in partnership with the World Health Organization found that urine samples of sick patients had elevated levels of cadmium, …"

Nuclear Waste: Energy Department proposes to kill multi-billion dollar nuclear fuel plant

By Douglas Birch and R. Jeffrey Smith

The costliest U.S. nonproliferation program has been undone by huge cost overruns.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Russia":

"… z. The plant, which lay at the center of a diplomatic deal with Russia that was blessed by three U.S. presidents, was supposed to transform …"

"… lled Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel to be burned in civilian nuclear power plants. Russia agreed to undertake a similar effort, but the cancellation of the U.S. pla …"

"… overarching goal” of destroying the plutonium and “will work with its Russian partners to achieve the goals of the agreement in a mutually beneficial m …"

Nuclear Waste: Auditors find continuing mismanagement at nuclear fuel plant

By Douglas Birch

The GAO complains anew about DOE's unwillingness to investigate cost increases at the MOX plant, and learn from its mistakes there

Excerpts from this story referencing "Energy":

"… fuel. The NNSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. …"

"… llions more than first estimated, due to what the GAO last year called the Energy agency’s “record of inadequate management and oversight.” The GAO r …"

"… of inadequate management and oversight.” The GAO report found that the Energy department’s April 2013 draft estimate of the total cost of the plutoniu …"

"… ignored key steps in calculating the figure.   A recently-completed Energy Department study of the plutonium plant and alternatives, not yet released …"

Nuclear Waste: Cost of South Carolina fuel plant goes up by billions of dollars — again

By R. Jeffrey Smith and Douglas Birch

The MOX plant may cost another $30 billion to complete and operate, and federal officials are newly wary.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Russia":

"… Cold War-era plutonium as part of a nonproliferation arrangement with Russia would likely cost a total of $25 billion to $30 billion on top of the  …"

"… in the coming year, they said. Initially, U.S. officials anticipated that Russia — which committed years ago to a similar program to convert its plutoniu …"

"… t one government official said that in private diplomatic discussions, the Russians had indicated they might support a U.S. decision instead to transform th …"

"… speed with which that U.S. effort could be completed was attractive to the Russians, the official said. The department’s study was conducted by John MacW …"

EPA abandons major radiation cleanup in Florida, despite cancer concerns

By Douglas P. Guarino

Federal agency abandons phosphate-mining clean-up, leaving more than 100,000 residents at risk of exposure to cancer-causing radiation.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Superfund":

"… Mara Burger, suggests the EPA decision not to clean up the sites under its Superfund program indicated that the federal agency did not consider the Lakeland ar …"

"… er the Lakeland area "problematic" from a public health standpoint. Under Superfund law, the federal agency is authorized to remediate contaminated sites that …"

"… the federal agency spokeswoman said. The EPA decision not to enforce its Superfund standards at the Florida sites is consistent with a controversial new guid …"

"… ivate meetings that they strongly opposed the agency declaring the parcels Superfund sites. Such a move could make mining companies liable for as much as $11 b …"

Top environment investigations from 2013

By The Center for Public Integrity

In case you missed it, here are some of our favorite environment and workers' rights investigations from 2013.

High bladder cancer rate shrouds New York plant, exposing chemical hazards in the workplace

By Jim Morris

A decades-long spate of bladder cancer at a Goodyear plant in Niagara Falls, N.Y. spotlights limits of regulation over dangerous chemicals.

Excerpts from this story referencing "India":

"… Protection Agency — import it from countries such as Germany, China and India. The compound is on the European Chemicals Agency’s version of a blackli …"

Days after investigation, coal miners' safety net scrutinized

By Bill Buzenberg

Center's 'Breathless and Burdened' series leads U.S. senators to call for changes, major hospital to halt program and review practices.

Behind the story: 'Breathless and Burdened'

By Chris Hamby

Reporter Chris Hamby details his yearlong look at miners suffering from black lung disease, and their struggle for benefits.

'Breathless and Burdened' will examine coal industry's efforts to defeat black lung benefits claims

By Chris Hamby

Our yearlong investigative project examining how coal companies defeat sick miners' black lung benefits claims begins tomorrow.

EPA proposes crackdown on emissions from new gas, coal-fired power plants

By Kristen Lombardi

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday proposed the first-ever limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants.

Excerpts from this story referencing "George W. Bush":

"… this,” added Holmstead, who headed the EPA's air office under President George W. Bush. “If EPA says, ‘This is the standard,’ there will be litigation.” …"

Countries target pesticides as suspected link to rare kidney disease

By Sasha Chavkin

Governments from El Salvador to Sri Lanka explore the role of pesticides in a malady killing laborers, as other scientists eye heat stress.

Excerpts from this story referencing "World Health Organization":

"… ral pesticides following a multi-year study by its health ministry and the World Health Organization, which concluded that the heavy metal cadmium had entered the food supply …"

Russian site eyed for Syrian chemical weapons destruction

By R. Jeffrey Smith

There’s a reason why Western officials are being nice to Moscow now — they want Russia to destroy Syria’s deadly arsenal on its own soil.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Iraq":

"… presented an authoritative, independent judgment that this time, unlike in Iraq, U.S. and allied specialists had made a sound judgment. “The informatio …"

"… m — a former Swedish defense scientist who had inspected weapons in Iraq before becoming the head of the Syrian mission — offerred additiona …"

Study delivers good, bad news on climate-impacting methane leakage from gas wells

By Lisa Song and Jim Morris

A study released today examines greenhouse-effect-causing methane emissions from natural gas drilling sites.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Austin":

"… greenhouse gas. The long-awaited study, led by the University of Texas at Austin and published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Aca …"

"… s signed on, EDF asked David Allen, a chemical engineering professor at UT-Austin, to lead the study. Allen said his team "tried to take as many steps as we …"

"… e as transparent and open as possible." In 2012, a fracking study from UT-Austin's Energy Institute was heavily criticized when the lead scientist failed t …"

"… did not participate in the PNAS study. Allen's team — which included UT-Austin researchers and experts from two engineering firms — worked with a six-m …"

OSHA rule targets worker exposure to silica

By Jim Morris

Citing concerns over the deadly lung disease silicosis and lung cancer, OSHA on Friday proposed a rule to control worker exposure to silica.

'Nuclear Waste' series targets seriously troubled project

By Bill Buzenberg

Center’s series kicks off an ongoing investigation into the world’s faltering efforts to control these most dangerous nuclear explosives.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Russia":

"… a started in the last days of the Clinton Administration when the U.S. and Russia agreed to dispose of 34 tons each of plutonium taken from retired nuclear …"

"… ts, the arrangement is close to collapse, due to a 600% budget overrun and Russia’s adroit diplomatic maneuvering.  A closer look at the troubling h …"

Nuclear Waste: Extremism in defense of federally-paid jobs is no vice in South Carolina

By Douglas Birch and R. Jeffrey Smith

PART THREE IN A SERIES: Lawmakers shed their fiscal conservatism to keep a troubled nuclear plant alive at Washington’s expense.

Excerpts from this story referencing "New York":

"… the firm that is designing and constructing the MOX factory, told The New York Times in 2010. Eble was explaining the firm’s repeated financial do …"

"… chairman of Areva’s U.S. arm after leaving government. He told The New York Times in 2011 his role was “largely advisory.” His consulting com …"

"… riations and Energy Committees; James T. Walsh, a former House member from New York who served on the Appropriations Committee; and Tim Peckinpaugh, a former …"

'Upset' emissions: Flares in the air, worry on the ground

By Kristen Lombardi and Andrea Fuller

Residents living along the chemical corridor of Texas and Louisiana often encounter 'upset' emissions -- triggering pollution, health fears.

Excerpts from this story referencing "BP’s Texas City refinery":

"… etween what’s reported and what’s emitted. Take the 40-day release at BP’s Texas City refinery. Plant supervisors assumed one flare had destroyed nearly 98 percent of th …"